Kelly Langan’s nurturing heart led her to her dream job.
After Langan helped care for her grandmother while she was a high school student, she realized she had a passion for taking care of others, which inspired her to pursue a career in nursing. Her path led her through caring for patients as well as teaching future generations of nurses and landed her where she is today as director of inpatient hospice services at Allied Services Hospice in both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. A position she was promoted to in February, Langan is in charge of coordinating admission, staff education and scheduling, compliance, day-to-day operations and more.
“I was very excited (to accept the promotion),” Langan said, who lives in Scranton with her husband, Brian. “I have the background and experience to support the position and to help run the team in getting these two units up and running, so I think that was very helpful.”
Langan’s journey into the field began when she earned a nursing degree from College Misericordia (now Misericordia University), in 1989, and started caring for patients at Moses Taylor Hospital as well as several home healthcare companies. She also shared her love for nursing with students at Marywood University, helping to reopen its nursing aid program, before working in it for eight years. Langan continued to serve patients and their families in hospice care during her time at Marywood, working for local hospice agencies and obtaining her hospice and palliative care certification. When Langan took a job at AseraCare Traditional Home Health and Hospice in Allentown, she became fully aware of hospice care as her “niche and her calling,” she said.
When she began at Allied in 2017, Langan helped to open the first inpatient hospice unit in Scranton, the success of which allowed her and her team to introduce a second unit on Meade Street in Wilkes-Barre, which opened its doors this past March.
“We have a wonderful support system at Allied Services and the executive team has been fantastic in supporting our vision to open hospice centers in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties,” she said.
One of her goals as director is to see the census of the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre units, as well as their home care, grow over the next few months. She also hopes to help educate new nurses as they come aboard, and to bring the entire hospice team closer together by demonstrating the importance of what she calls the “hospice philosophy.”
“I believe so much in the hospice type of care and what we do, so helping the staff to grow as caregivers to our patients and families and helping them have empathy toward our patients and their families is a big thing I believe in,” Langan said.
When it comes to her patients, Langan’s priority is to help them pass on with comfort and dignity. Hospice care also extends to the patient’s family, she said. Offering support for their loved ones is equally as important to her, which is why she aims to continue lending a helping hand during her time as director. Allied also includes 13 months of bereavement follow-up to the family after a patient passes because it’s “very important to be sure the family members are coping with the loss of their loved ones,” Langan said.
Hospice staff members want to be there for these patients and their families because they work so closely together and become invested in their lives. Langan gets to know these patients and their loved ones on such a personal level and that has become one of her favorite parts of her job.
“I love talking to families and patients and hearing their stories,” she said. “I think our patients have interesting lives and I love to sit and talk to them about what they did for a living and just talk to them about their life and their past. It can be very rewarding on my end as well to hear what they’ve done and just to be able to be there and be a comfort and support to them.”
Those Langan cares for not only bring her joy, but they also are her source of motivation. She finds that when times become difficult for her, thinking about how many people she has positively impacted gives her strength to keep going.
“Over the years, I’ve saved all of the letters and thank you notes from people so that if I do have a bad day, I can pull them out and reflect on them,” Langan said. “It helps to know that what you’re doing is worthwhile. That’s really what makes you feel good at the end of the day is knowing that you did the best job you could for our patients and their loved ones.”
When it comes to her personal life, she leaves work with a greater appreciation for “the small things in life” and her own family, as she sees the resilience of the human spirit and the fragility of life every day.
As Langan reflects back on her career, she remembers all of the patients and families she’s grown close to and the impact they’ve had on her. Sometimes, she even gets to see the impact she had on them.
During her time in home hospice, Langan was caring for a woman who lived in her granddaughter’s home. The patient’s 13-year-old great granddaughter also was there and Langan demonstrated how the teen could help her mother care for the matriarch. Years later, the teenager was all grown up and ran into Langan, proudly stating she became a nurse thanks to Langan’s compassion and care for her great-grandmother.
“It goes to show that we never know how we may impact another person’s life,” she said.
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